In a speech on 18 February 2010, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said that BiH can only join the EU as one country with one voice and that the EU will never accept a break-up of the state.
''Everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina wants to join the European Union – every citizen and most elected leaders, it would seem. But the spirit of compromise to get there is plainly lacking at the political level. Let me be clear: Bosnia and Herzegovina can only join the European Union as one country, by speaking with one voice, and by respecting individual human rights and the different cultures of the constituent peoples," Ashton said.
"Politics of division and flirtations with secessionist rhetoric are as harmful as they are pointless. The EU will never accept the break-up of Bosnia and Herzegovina; we look forward to seeing the country instead as a member of the EU one day, with strong entities working within a single functional state,'' she concluded.
In an interview with EurActiv in March, EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle reaffirmed the European perspective of the country and stressed the need for a united, functioning BiH.
''The international community and the European Council have stressed the territorial integrity of BiH and the need for unity. The European Council has also stressed that BiH has a European perspective and the EU wants a functioning, stable country with an effective government. It is very important to move the country from a post-Dayton to a pro-European era and I hope that the elections due in October can be a step towards this.''
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, speaking for the Spanish EU Presidency in April, urged BIH's leaders to agree on constitutional reform after meeting with Sulejman Tilic of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Zlatko Lagumdzija of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Milorad Dodik of the Party of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) in Sarajevo.
"They all said that, after the October elections, they will work together, regardless of their political differences, towards one goal: Bosnia and Herzegovina joining the European Union and NATO," said Moratinos during a press conference in the capital.
He said these were the "positions and messages'' he had taken away from the meetings with the main Muslim, Serb and Croat parties.
In a letter to the UN in May 2010, BiH's current Prime Minister Nikola Spiric accused HR/Special Representative Valentin Inzko of destabilising the political process in the country and called for his removal.
"Continuing foreign intervention in local political issues is destabilising and undermines the creation of a consensus [...] as well as reform efforts," said Spiric, according to AFP.
The Office of the High Representative (OHR) "should be closed in order to enable Bosnian political leaders to achieve legitimate progress," he said, adding that Inzko was "contributing to non-functional governance in Bosnia".
HR/EU Special Representative Valentin Inzko, responding to Spiric's remarks, blamed political figures in BiH for a "deterioration" of political dialogue.
"While regional prospects for reconciliation have improved, the language and logic of politics inside Bosnia and Herzegovina appears to have rather deteriorated," Inzko told the UN Security Council on 24 May.
"Bosnia and Herzegovina remains afflicted by a lack of a basic – and fundamental – consensus about what sort of country it should be, or could be," he said, adding that the leaders of Republika Srpska continue to undermine state institutions and repudiate the authority of the HR and the Dayton Agreement.
Milorad Dodik, leader of Republika Srpska, has repeatedly claimed the right of the Bosnian Serbs to self-determination and vigorously opposes any attempt to transfer powers to the central state.
"We said 'no' and we shall say 'no' each time a fundamental position of Republika Srpska has been questioned," Dodik stated during talks on constitutional reform in October last year.
In March 2010, Hido Biščević, secretary-general of the Regional Cooperation Council for South Eastern Europe (RCC), told EurActiv that the political situation in BiH is "extremely worrisome" and appears to be turning into a "dormant frozen conflict".
"Reaching a self-sustainable constitution based on the Dayton Agreement is of crucial importance for durable stability in the entire region," Biščević said.
But he admitted that BiH is no closer to self-sustainability now than it was when the Dayton Agreement was struck 15 years ago.
"It is hard to imagine that neighbouring countries such as Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro can move towards the EU if BiH remains a sort of black hole in the region. I believe that true, durable stability in the Balkans is closely linked with BiH," he said.
"If the situation in BiH remains unresolved, this could open a Pandora's Box and create a pebble effect throughout the Western Balkans. This would be a shameful result of almost 25 years of dealing with the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. The rest Europe would be united, free and democratic but there would be the opening of a new crisis in the Balkans," the RCC secretary-general warned.
Almir Šahović, BiH’s ambassador to France, told EurActiv.fr in April that the EU and NATO are the two key external priorities for his country and that despite political blockages, BiH should be able to apply for EU membership by the end of 2010.
''The EU and NATO are the two priorities of our external policy. We have not yet submitted our EU membership application because of reasons that originate from the difficult starting position of Bosnia and Herzegovina ten or fifteen years ago, compared to the other countries of the region. Since 1995, we have made numerous reforms in the areas ofdefence, taxation and justice," Šahović said.
"But we still haven't managed to complete this process and some issues remain unresolved, such as the redistribution of state property between the central state and the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina," he added.
"Moreover, the closure of the Office of the High Representative requires a reform of the constitution. All political players agree on the need for constitutional change, but there is disagreement on how to change it. This is why our membership application process has slowed recently, " Šahović continued.
"However, we signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) two years ago and the authorities are continuing to make progress in the adoption of the acquis communautaire without waiting for the official membership application, as we do not want to be behind ourneighbours who have already submitted theirs. I think that by the end of this year, the conditions will be sufficient for Bosnia and Herzegovina to apply for membership. I am very optimistic about our ability to make up this small delay,'' he concluded.
UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council (UNSC) Sir Mark Lyall Grant expressed concern over plans to hold a referendum in Republika Srpska challenging the legitimacy of the HR/EU Special Representative's decisions.
"The European Union has made clear that a membership application from Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be considered while the Office of the High Representative remains in place. It is therefore essential that Bosnian leaders work constructively together to deliver the remaining objectives and conditions which remain necessary for transition of the Office of the High Representative to take place," the British diplomat said.
US Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs to the UN Security Council Ambassador Brooke D. Anderson echoed the concerns about the political atmosphere and challenges to the HR’s authority.
"As we approach the October 2010 national elections, we are concerned that divisive and damaging political rhetoric may threaten regional reconciliation efforts, undermine progress on the country's Euro-Atlantic agenda, and distract attention from real national priorities. It's simply unacceptable to propose or speculate about the dissolution of the state - even a peaceful dissolution," the US diplomat stated.
According to Jan Havránek, an expert on security issues and a research fellow at the Prague Security Studies Institute (PSSI), BiH must improve its legal system as reforms simply fail due to corruption – but the EU should not give up on the country.
''It sounds like a cliché, but BiH needs to upgrade its judicial and legal system and fight corruption. Since 2008, when BiH received plans to liberalise its visa regime with the EU, the problem of corruption still persists. Any governmental reforms fail because of corruption,'' he stated.
''Moreover, BiH needs to harmonise two different legal systems within one state and improve cooperation between the two entities […] Politicians must understand that their country needs reforms not because of EU accession, but because it is in the interests of BiH and its citizens,'' said Havránek.
''BiH is losing its argument for EU membership but at the same time, the EU should not turn away. From this point of view, it is important that NATO launched its Action Plan for BiH which represents the first step towards full membership. We should wait for the results of the general election – scheduled for this autumn [October 2010] – to see what they indicate for the future development of the country,'' he added.
In a March paper for the European Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), Bart M.J. Szewczyk, senior associate at WilmerHale in Washington, DC, argues that the EU needs to exercise greater leverage and commit more resources in BiH if its strategy is to be successful.
''A reinvigorated strategy for success in Bosnia will demand greater EU leverage through increased resource commitments in terms of EUFOR troops, EUSR staff, and EU money. EU influence has decreased over the past few years and needs to be restored, since the attractive power of EU accession has proven insufficient on its own as political glue in Bosnia," Szewczyk said.
"The political decision to commit the necessary resources and increase EU leverage will not be taken, however, unless the EU recognises its significant interests in Bosnia: preventing the need for future humanitarian intervention by keeping the peace, consolidating Bosnia's democratic development and foreclosing the emergence of a criminal state or terrorist safe haven, enlarging (and thereby further validating) the European model of governance, and demonstrating the credibility of EU foreign policy,'' he added.